House of Commons Hansard #52 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreement.

Topics

Early Learning and Child Care Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. On May 31, 2006, you invited members to comment on whether Bill C-303 would require a royal recommendation. Without commenting on the merits of this private member's bill, it is the government's view that the bill does require a royal recommendation.

Subclause 5(1) of the bill provides that:

The Minister of Finance may make a child care transfer payment directly to a province or territory in each fiscal year to support the early learning and child care program of the province or territory....

That would happen if certain conditions were met. These conditions are expanded upon in subclauses 5(2) and 5(5) and clause 6. In other words, subclause 5(1) would provide authority for transfer payments.

Some members could argue that a royal recommendation is not needed because the bill defines “child care transfer payment” in clause 2 to mean:

a cash contribution or financial transfer in respect of early learning and child care services that may be provided under an Act of Parliament to a province, territory, institution or corporate entity.

However, the bill would still have an effect on appropriations made to provinces for early learning and child care under any other federal act, including future appropriation acts. It thereby affects the purpose for which those appropriations are made.

Mr. Speaker, you have reminded the House that the principle of the financial initiative of the Crown requires that a royal recommendation be supplied for an appropriation as well as for any change in the financial purpose of an act. This is clearly the case with Bill C-303. Even though it purports not to appropriate money directly, it would alter the purpose of an appropriation granted through another act.

I would also like to raise a second question with regard to the bill, which is that it reopens a question already dealt with by the House in the 2006 budget and the budget implementation bill, Bill C-13, which received royal assent on June 22, 2006, namely, the question of funding for early learning and child care.

It is a well recognized principle that the House cannot be asked to make a decision on a question, such as the second reading of a bill, if it has already voted on the same or a substantially similar question. Standing Order 18 is explicit that:

No Member may reflect upon any vote of the House, except for the purpose of moving that such vote be rescinded.

This bill was introduced seven days after the House adopted ways and means for the Budget Implementation Act, 2006, which provided funds for early learning and child care without strings and which provided explicitly in paragraph 5(c) of part 6 that the funds could not be retained or constrained in any way. The bill is clearly an attempt to reopen that question through the back door.

On this basis, Mr. Speaker, you may also wish to consider whether the bill should be ruled out of order at second reading. We thank you for your attention. We look forward to an early ruling on this matter.

Early Learning and Child Care Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I find the position of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons vis-à-vis this bill to be quite ironic, not to say distinctly odd.

Let me explain. The second point he raised had to do with the fact that the House has already voted on this bill and therefore it should not receive royal assent.

With all due respect to my colleague, he is confusing two totally different concepts.

In terms of whether the House has already voted on the matter, we are currently considering a private member's bill under private members' business. Furthermore, the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure and the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business are looking into whether the bill is votable and in order. I am sorry, but the subcommittee has met. We cannot vote on something that the House has already decided on; it is one of the criteria. The subcommittee decided that this bill was completely in order and quite acceptable for the purposes of discussion during private members' business.

That was the second point my colleague raised.

The first point he raised was that this would have an effect on appropriations. Mr. Speaker, when you make your ruling you will have to give this some serious thought.

It is quite ironic to see the Conservative Party attitude toward this. When the Liberals were in power, in the previous government, the Conservatives were incensed by arguments like the ones it is making today. That explains why so many people have lost confidence in politics. Once a party comes into power it sings a different tune than when it was in the opposition.

I maintain that this is an important bill. Why will the Bloc Québécois be in favour of it? This bill give's Quebec the right to opt out with full compensation, that is why. The Bloc considers child care to be a provincial responsibility, or Quebec's responsibility where we are concerned. In the case of Quebec, it is a matter of $807 million earmarked by the former government.

I wanted to add these points for you to ponder.

Early Learning and Child Care Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Is the hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh rising on the same point of order?

Early Learning and Child Care Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, in terms of past practice this motion clearly is premature. The House has not pronounced on this bill. Members have every right to have the debate, the first two hours of it, at which point hopefully the bill will be sent over to committee and perhaps amended there, perhaps in part to deal with the concerns being raised by the government.

The decision itself as to whether a royal prerogative is required here will be made and should be made at that time, I would argue, not at this time. That has been the pattern on a number of rulings we have had both in this Parliament and the previous Parliament.

In particular, and I want to echo the comments from the whip for the Bloc, it is really quite hypocritical to hear the government party stand and make these kind of submissions when in the last Parliament it repeatedly brought forth bills that, quite frankly, very clearly required royal prerogatives. We went ahead and dealt with them and in some occasions amended them to the degree that the royal prerogative was not necessary. For those members to make the argument at this stage is completely contrary to the practice they followed in the last Parliament when they were in official opposition.

What we should be doing and what I would urge you to do is simply put off making any decision on this issue of the necessity of the royal prerogative until the House has had its due process, until it has had the opportunity to fully consider this legislation and decide then whether the royal prerogative is required or not.

Early Learning and Child Care Act
Private Members' Business

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, very quickly, in response to my two colleagues, I would remind the Speaker that it was the Speaker's invitation for members to comment on whether we felt Bill C-303 required a royal recommendation. That is clearly what we are doing here. We thank the Speaker for his invitation and we hope he will make a speedy ruling on this.

Early Learning and Child Care Act
Private Members' Business

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I would like to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, the member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, and the member for Windsor—Tecumseh for their interventions. They will be taken under advisement and the Speaker will report back to the House with a ruling.

Early Learning and Child Care Act
Private Members' Business

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to support the NDP's bill on early learning and child care programs. Canadians have been waiting a long time, 10 years, for the federal government to enact such legislation. I would like to use my time today to present an overview of the issue.

This year, Raffi Cavoukian, the award-winning children's songwriter and recipient of the Order of Canada, gave me a book entitled Child Honouring: How to Turn This World Around, which has inspired me to present this bill. This is not a book that is either particularly for or against child care, but it expresses the extreme vulnerability of children to their environment in the early years. In the Dalai Lama's preface to the book, he states that societies will advance only by putting children front and centre in our policies and our program development.

The debate today is about the policies that are best able to achieve that goal in helping us advance.

Canadian parents desperately need affordable, high quality child care to ensure those key early learning opportunities. Canada's economy and social fabric are best served with a quality early learning system that gets our children off to the best possible start.

Instead, the Conservatives have chosen a child care program that has nothing to do with child care. According to their research, and by their own admission, their plan will have very little impact on parents' child care choices. It is nothing more than a tiny subsidy for daycares, a vote-buying plan that might look good on the surface but that, in reality, fails to create a single daycare space for families who need them.

This empty plan seems to be a clear reflection of the Conservative Party of Canada's narrow vision of a federal government whose only role in social policy is to reduce taxes.

Canadians need a national preschool education and child care program that gives all Canadian children affordable, good-quality opportunities, regardless of the province or territory they live in or their family's income.

The NDP child care act in the bill is actually about child care and early learning. With this bill, we will ensure reliable provincial and territorial transfers for child care spaces, while enshrining in law the principles of accessibility, universality, accountability, inclusiveness, quality and educational development. The early learning and child care act can be a cornerstone of social policy for Canadian families.

I would like first to speak to the need in Canada. Studies have repeatedly found that child care programs in Canada are simply inadequate in comparison to other countries. An OECD study recently put Canada at the bottom. Over the summer, my conversation with hundreds of Canadian parents across Canada painfully confirmed the inadequacy of child care. Hundreds of parents like Cathy Rikley, who has a 15 and a half month old baby, spent months searching for quality day care that had available space that she could afford on her salary. She worried incessantly about leaving her baby in less than ideal situations.

In my riding of Victoria the cost for day care is $800 a month. In one Victoria day care centre, the Cridge Centre, there are 47 babies and 50 on the waiting list. The group day care has 56 spots for three to five year olds and 66 children on the waiting list. Another day care surveyed had over 80 on the waiting list. Some day care workers told me parents register as soon as they know they are expecting a child in the hope of securing a space. That is shameful.

For all the trumpeting the Conservatives do about choice in child care, they entirely ignore how stressed and stretched parents are. In the perfect Conservative world it seems there is never a single parent family and in two parent families they can always afford the second parent to stay at home. However, in a complicated and increasingly unregulated market economy, juggling family and work is an overwhelming task for very many Canadian families. If they cannot make it, the Conservatives will tell them it is their fault. They are not working hard enough. Let it be said that it is precisely this kind of unregulated market that Conservatives support through their policies that is forcing many parents back to work.

The $100 a month and pennies in GST savings do not cut it with most Canadian families. Look at Victoria's housing costs. The average price for a single family home in greater Victoria last month, August 2006, was $510,000. Families simply cannot cope.

The role of the federal government in this case should be to pool collective resources together and work collaboratively with provinces according to their needs to ensure all Canadians have access to basic social programs.

This child care bill represents Canadians working together to make a better life for our families, to give the best possible life to our children. It is needed. Our children are worth it and Canadians agree.

A 2002 national poll found that 86% of all Canadians believe that there can be a publicly funded child care system that makes quality child care available to all children in Canada.

The arguments are not only social, they are also economic, something maybe the Conservatives think they understand. For every $1 spent on child care there is a $2 economic benefit. At a recent OECD conference, every economist there argued that the single most important investment in long term competitiveness is to invest in early childhood learning.

If we want highly skilled adults with the literacy skills to survive and compete in an increasingly complex global economy, we must begin with a strong start for our children. The Ontario Public School Boards' Association said that investing in our youngest children in the early years represents the most far-reaching responsible investment we can make in Canada's future.

It argues that:

A child's readiness to learn at the start of grade one is the single strongest predictor of how well the child will do in every grade, whether they will graduate successfully, what their earning potential will be, how positive their contribution to society will be and even how healthy they will be.

That is health care costs. Saving government spending, surely that will get the Conservatives' attention. The Alberta's Commission on Learning says that ignoring the early years and focussing on fixing problems when children come to the school is short-sighted and a wrong-headed approach.

There is much to be learned about the importance of early childhood development in determining long term health, well-being, and general adjustment in life, like the research done by the human early learning partnerships in B.C. universities. We have to take advantage of that knowledge, not simply throw a cheque at parents.

Basically, the Conservatives' vision involves minimizing the federal government's involvement in social policy and its commitment to foreign affairs and the armed forces. My vision of Canada differs dramatically from the Conservatives' vision.

I believe the federal government has a fundamental role to play in our country, including a responsibility to protect the equality and social rights of all Canadians, to offer a comparable range of opportunities—which have become anything but equal because of an imperfect market, to ensure that all Canadians have shelter and sufficient income to support their family, and to ensure that they have access to health care and learning opportunities.

The Conservative plan simply does not work. The major flaw in its child care plan, which is not one at all, was summed up on a sign that I saw at a child care rally on the steps of the B.C. legislature in Victoria the day before I introduced this child care bill. It read: “$100 buys a month of child care”. That was in 1986. It seems that the Conservatives are behind the times. The Conservatives own research showed that:

The general consensus was that the $1,200 will not have any real impact on child care choices...While parents may choose how to spend the allowance, it is not sufficient to have an impact upon parents' choices: No one is going to be in a position to go back to work or stay at home to raise children because of the $1,200.

That information cost the government $123,000. I could have told the Conservatives that for a cup of coffee and saved them the time.

Indeed, the Conservatives' plan is taxable. I will call it a scheme. It is taxable, thus negatively affecting many parents' eligibility for the child tax benefit, the GST refund, employment insurance during maternity leave, subsidized housing, et cetera, and for those families who could most use the extra money. The true value of the proposed allowance could be as little a dollar a day per child aged one to six years.

The Conservatives' own research sums it up concluding that “The allowance is not seen as a national child care solution”.

Indeed, the government is now placing radio ads suggesting that parents use the cash to cover babysitting costs. Let us call it what it is, a babysitting bonus, a cynical vote-buying handout. So let us return to the task of building a national child care and early learning system that is universally accessible, affordable, not-for-profit and high quality for our children today, and for generations to come.

With the challenges currently facing our society, child care should not be a luxury. The child care act before us today makes the right of our children to a headstart a universal one. Let us pass this act and as the Ontario Public School Boards' Association puts it: “every child deserves the best possible start”.

Early Learning and Child Care Act
Private Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Questions and comments. I would like to ask the indulgence of the House, before I recognize a member, that all those that wish to ask questions in this instance rise now, so that I can gauge timing.

The hon. member for Abbotsford.

Early Learning and Child Care Act
Private Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's comments and I note she implied that Canadians do not support our new government's universal child care plan. I want to remind her that on January 23, Canadians elected not a failed Liberal government, not an NDP government, but they elected a new Conservative government. We were very clear that we would be providing $1,200 per year, per child.

The reality is that Canadians appreciate our efforts to support working families. In fact, a resident of Victoria, right in the member's own riding, recently wrote the Prime Minister to say: “Being a work at home mom with two small children, the extra money is going to make a huge difference to our family, allowing us and our children to enjoy a better life and future”.

While the member and her NDP colleagues mock the $1,200 per year, per child, and she herself referred to it as puny and an empty plan, when will she admit that her party is completely out of touch with the reality of working families in Canada?

Early Learning and Child Care Act
Private Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative claim of providing choice in child care is entirely bogus. There is nothing to show that giving people a small or even a medium amount of money creates or sustains choice. The person that the member was referring to is a very lucky person, but how many people in Victoria have that choice? I would suggest perhaps one in 100,000 across Canada.

A small payment to parents will not create new early learning and child care services, or even allow parents to afford and access the services that their children need. A real plan would have standards and goals, and timelines for building. Building a hospital does not provide the needed services of doctors and nurses or in fact all the workers in the same way that the Conservative plan will not create those early learning opportunities that are so needed to give our children a head start.

As a result of it being taxed back, the allowance will give a wealthy banker's wife more money than the single parent. It is entirely appropriate for parents who can stay at home and wish to do so and be as involved as they can be in the parenting part. Parenting and child support are completely supportive of each other.

Early Learning and Child Care Act
Private Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member and her assessment that child care is expensive, especially in urban centres. The previous Liberal plan created approximately 200 spaces in my riding of Don Valley East. The Conservative government's plan of $100 per month is really unfair, especially for the two parent working family. It is taxable, which amounts to $60 to $80. It is unfair because the Conservatives have increased the income tax rate for the working poor as well. Their plan gives money to the ultra-rich.

The Liberal government invested and made deals with all the provincial jurisdictions for the early learning and child care strategy. The Liberal government decreased taxes for middle income earners. The Liberal government increased the personal income threshold by $500. Given all this, why would the NDP agree with the Conservatives and bring the previous Liberal government down, when the Conservative only agenda is an ideology and an empty plan?

Early Learning and Child Care Act
Private Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I sure wish the Liberals would get new talking points. They need to remember that it was the Canadian people who made that decision, not the NDP with 19 members.

Early Learning and Child Care Act
Private Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker I am pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to the debate on Bill C-303, the proposed early learning and child care act introduced by the member for Victoria. This is a crucial issue.

Canada's new government recognizes that one of the most important investments we can make as a country is to give parents choices when it comes to caring for their children. We take the commitment to support parents' choices in child care very seriously, and choice is definitely the operative word here.

Canadians voted for a platform that put choice in child care as one of their top five priorities. We promised choice in child care in the Speech from the Throne. We committed to it in budget 2006, and now we are delivering on that commitment to Canadian families through our universal child care plan.

Our plan represents a flexible, balanced approach that enables parents and communities to develop the child care solutions that work best for them. This is a plan founded on respect for parents' expertise in deciding what is best for their children and for the roles and responsibilities of the provinces and territories in delivering child care services.

Bill C-303, in contrast, lacks the flexibility that would enable parents to make choices they want. The legislation fails to properly respect the expertise of parents or the established roles and responsibilities of the provinces and territories in the realm of child care service delivery.

On the contrary, what Bill C-303 proposes is tantamount to an intrusion into provincial and territorial jurisdictions. The bill would impose singular, one size fits all criteria and conditions on provincial and territorial governments in order for them to qualify for federal early learning and child care funding.

Unlike the inadequate and ineffective approach envisioned in Bill C-303, our new universal child care plan recognizes that no two Canadian families are alike. We understand that parents with young children balance their work and family lives in different ways and for different reasons. We are very aware, for example, that the services provided by day care facilities that are open from nine to five are simply not an option for the many Canadian parents whose schedules require that they work evenings, weekends, split shifts or 12 hour shifts. Neither is standard day care the answer for parents taking evening courses to enhance their skills.

Standard day care is an equally unrealistic option for farming families, for families working in the fisheries and for the many Canadians with young children who live in rural or remote communities. Moreover, as a recent Statistics Canada study confirmed, almost half of Canadian parents continue to find ways to stay at home to care for their preschoolers themselves.

Given this wide range of parents' situations and needs, we have developed and, more important, acted on a child care plan that responds to the diverse circumstances and real needs of Canadian families.

As the House is aware, our universal child care plan has two parts: a universal child care benefit and a child care spaces initiative. Together, these two components represent an investment of close to $12 billion over five years to improve the lives of Canadian families, an investment that is more than twice that proposed by the former Liberal government.

Allow me to elaborate for a moment on the first component of the universal child care benefit.

This direct benefit to Canadian families helps them choose the type of child care that works best for them. I am pleased to inform the House that this past July, parents across Canada began receiving the benefit of $100 a month for each child under the age of six, a benefit they are free to use in the best interests of their own children. For example, they can apply the $1,200 a year toward the cost of formal day care, they can use the benefit to pay for occasional babysitting or for child care help from a grandparent or a neighbour. If parents so choose, they can purchase educational resources, like an educational DVD, for their preschoolers, or they can use the benefit to pay for special outings to a museum, for example.

As I noted earlier, we respect parents' choices and this is what the benefit delivers. Some 1.6 million families with 2.1 million children will receive the benefit. Families who are already registered for the Canada child tax benefit, accounting for more than 90% of families, received the universal child care benefit automatically.

However, we want to ensure that all parents with preschoolers receive the benefit. To this end, the government has been very active in reaching out to the families not currently registered for Canada child care tax benefits to encourage them to apply. Our outreach efforts include a special website, radio ads, print ads in national and local daily papers, and special efforts directed at aboriginal, minority French language and ethnocultural communities.

The government is proud to support the choices of all Canadian parents trying to give their preschoolers a strong start in life. Canada's new government is equally committed to the second component of our universal child care plan that will provide a flexible approach to child care spaces that meet Canadian parents diverse needs. The new child care spaces initiative will provide incentives that can be translated into more child care options in large urban centres and rural areas. It can also provide flexible hours for many parents whose work hours do not fit the standard nine to five model.

In designing this initiative, we have been consulting with the provinces and territories, as well as businesses, communities and non-profit organizations to tap into their expertise. Furthermore, a ministerial advisory committee was recently named by the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development to advise her on the design of a child care spaces initiative.

Chosen for expertise in child care, work-family issues, community organizations and the needs of employers, the committee will present the minister with a report outlining its advice and recommendations this fall. I would like to note for the interest of the House that this report will be available to the general public.

This responsive, flexible approach which respects parents' choices and parents' expertise, along with the roles and the responsibilities for other provinces and territories, is in keeping with our promise to Canadians and Canada's own promise for the future.

For those reasons we are unable to support Bill C-303 proposed by the member for Victoria.

Early Learning and Child Care Act
Private Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I speak today in favour of Bill C-303 which establishes criteria and conditions that must be met before a transfer payment may be made to a province or territory to support an early learning and child care program. Of course, I support the bill. It is almost a replica of the Liberal program for early learning and child care which began in 2004.

In 2005, all 10 provinces signed on to our program, indicating a cross-Canada recognition of the societal need for this program and a commitment of cooperation to achieve it. These signed agreements were the first steps toward putting in place the foundation of a national early learning and child care program and serve as the framework on which Bill C-303 is built.

The framework includes the values of equality, universality, accessibility and development; values that are upheld in Bill C-303, values that we, the Liberals, support.

How strange it is that the sponsoring party of the bill, the NDP, chose just last December not to support an almost identical program but chose instead to join with the Conservatives and the Bloc and cause the government to fall. Canadian parents who have told us about the desperate shortage of child care spaces and were thrilled by our program were not amused by the antics of the NDP at that time. However, here we are, less than a year later, with an NDP bill seeking to resuscitate a program that it helped to kill.

We all know that one of the NDP members travelled to the Middle East in the summer. It was very well publicized. In retrospect, I think she must have taken the road to Damascus while over there. She must have seen the light, converted her colleagues on her return and now we have the bill.

Is it a sign of the NDP repentance for its cynical vote last December, a vote that dashed the hopes of Canadian parents desperate to find quality child care for their children? I do not know about that but I do know the Liberals are committed to helping parents.

We brought in the child care expense deduction years ago to help offset the cost of child care. We also introduced the Canada child tax benefit and the national child benefit supplement to help parents. We allocated $5 billion for child care for 2006 through to 2010. In the election campaign, we promised another $6 billion to take this program forward to 2015.

When one considers the additional money that would have been invested by the provinces and by the municipalities over those years, one can safely assume that Canada would have been building a good child care system for its citizens. Now instead, from the NDP, we have a piece of paper, Bill C-303, but no money. Only the government has money to allocate, which takes us to the Conservatives.

The Conservative Party did not want to spend $11 billion on early learning and child care and instead cancelled the hard won agreements with the provinces and now send out cheques to parents of $100 per month per child. There is no early learning component attached to this money and it is such a paltry sum that it might only pay for two or three hours of babysitting each week. In addition, it is taxable. Whatever parents do, I can say to them that they should not spend it because when April comes they will receive a bill from the revenue agency.

The Conservative program is a deception. It is called the universal child care benefit. It is not universal. First, the parents of more than 100,000 children do not receive it because information about how to access it was so poorly done.

Second, it has little to do with child care because the amount is so small it does not make a dint in real child care costs.

Third, it has absolutely no early learning component. Early learning, both social and cognitive, is the critical component in a good early childhood experience. The OECD report released last week shows Canada last out of 20 nations in public spending on child care.

Now, with the cancellation of the Liberal agreements with the provinces and territories, Canada is the only country in the OECD without a goal, a plan and a budget for early learning and child care.

The journalist, Susan Riley, said it in the Ottawa Citizen better than I can. Last March she said:

When it comes to practical results...and even Conservative fiscal orthodoxy, [the Conservative] child-care plan makes no sense. Critics say it won't do much to give young children a head start....

So why is the prime minister, and...the minister so unwilling to compromise? In the absence of other compelling arguments, the answer has to be ideological. [He] doesn't...believe “the state” should “replace” parents when it comes to child-rearing [and] said...“the only experts on raising children were called Mom and Dad”.

This is a divisive and dishonest characterization of a complex issue, and many working parents, who make up the significant majority, [of parents in Canada], know it. Same goes for the [minister's] insulting suggestion that the Tory program will help parents “who want to raise their own children”--as if moms and dads who have to work full-time are some derelicts, or not really parenting.

This language will appeal to social conservatives...having been forced to comprise on samesex marriage and abortion, this may be the Prime Minister 's gesture his long-suffering “family values” caucus.

She concludes that the Conservative cheques are “no substitute for a national network of well-designed, well-staffed [child care] centres”.

Here we are today with a piece of paper, Bill C-303, from the NDP and the government opposite ideologically opposed to implementing it. I predict that Bill C-303 will pass both in the House and in the Senate, but that the government will not reallocate the necessary funds to change the words of the bill into reality for Canadian families.

How can we work to bring that reality to Canadians when the bill is the opposite of Conservative ideology? Maybe we can fit it into another piece of Conservative ideology. Let us examine where the Conservatives are spending taxpayer money.

To an observer, it might seem they are in love with uniforms and weapons because most new spending is going to the military to increase the number of servicemen and women, to buy more transport for them and new equipment for active combat. In addition, border guards will get new guns and training to use them. The finance minister has also set aside considerable funds for prisons, in his words, “for the anticipated increase in the number of prisoners”. More people in uniform.

Yes, the government loves uniforms and guns.

Therefore, with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek, may I suggest that the government might fund child care if we make a few amendments to Bill C-303.

First, I think the government would like it if we made uniforms mandatory. Second, it would also like it if we made marching to martial music a part of the curriculum. Third, story time could revolve around war stories. Fourth, target shooting could begin at age three.

Yes, the government might support such a program but, unfortunately, the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc would probably not because it would go against their shared desire to build for Canada a peaceable kingdom.

In summary, I do support Bill C-303. I reject the vision of the government for Canada's future. I prefer the vision articulated in Bill C-303 based on the Liberals' child care policy and plan.